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This article is an attempt to explore the emergence and expansion of left ideas in Bengal, the key province of colonial India. Nowadays the major part of the province is a part of the West Bengal state, headed by communists for decades. A communist state in a capitalist country is a phenomenon, which cannot be explained merely by economic reasons. A closer scrutiny reveals a certain correlation between the travels to the West by prominent Bengali public figures and leftist thoughts in their works between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Therefore, their travel narratives, or travelogues, which present the West as the epicenter of rapid economic, scientific and technological development, causing, however, an observable spiritual degradation of society attracts a special attention. None of the travelers introduces him/herself as a consistent socialist or communist, but the Western model comes under severe criticism, though the importance of technical development for India is commonly recognized. This results in the positioning the Soviet system as an alternative to the European and American ways, as a model that is closer and more attractive for India.

About the authors

Elena Vasilievna Volgina

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Author for correspondence.
Email: ele-volgi@yandex.ru

Third Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Russian Federation


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